The 19 men who hijacked the planes were foreigners who had been in the US from a week to several years. At least 16 entered at US ports of entry, with student or tourist visas; some of their visas appear to have expired before September 11, 2001. About 40 percent of the 8. 5 million unauthorized foreigners in the US similarly entered with seemingly valid visas, but did not abide by the terms of their visa by e. g. departing within 90 days. (Martin & Martin, October 2001) Our enemies have repeatedly exercised this option of inserting terrorists by exploiting weaknesses in our immigration system.
A Center for Immigration Studies analysis of the immigration histories of the 48 foreign-born Al-Qaeda operatives who committed crimes in the United States from 1993 to 2001 (including the 9/11 hijackers) found that nearly every element of the immigration system has been penetrated by the enemy. (Camarota, 2002) Of the 48, one-third were here on various temporary visas, another third were legal residents or naturalized citizens, one-fourth were illegal aliens, and the remainder had pending asylum applications.
Nearly half of the total had, at some point or another, violated existing immigration laws. 9/11 was not the only terrorist plot to benefit from lax enforcement of ordinary immigration controls”every major Al-Qaeda attack or conspiracy in the United States has involved at least one terrorist who violated immigration law. Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer, for example, who was part of the plot to bomb the Brooklyn subway, was actually caught three times by the Border Patrol trying to sneak in from Canada. The third time the Canadians would not take him back.
What did we do? Because of a lack of detention space, he was simply released into the country and told to show up for his deportation hearing. After all, with so many millions of illegal aliens here already, how much harm could one more do? Another example is Mohammed Salameh, who rented the truck in the first World Trade Center bombing. He should never have been granted a visa in the first place. When he applied for a tourist visa he was young, single, and had no income and, in the event, did indeed end up remaining illegally.
And when his application for a green card under the 1986 illegal-alien amnesty was rejected, there was (and remains today) no way to detain and remove rejected green-card applicants, so he simply remained living and working in the United States, none the worse for wear. (Krikorian, 2004) Immigration Changes According to Daniel T. Griswold (2002) We should not allow the war on terrorism to be hijacked by those who would turn it into a war on immigration.
Members of the Immigration Reform Caucus and writers in National Review have tried to hitch their anti-immigration agenda to legitimate concerns about border security in our post-9-11 world. But border control and immigration are two separate issues. The problem is not that we are letting too many people in but that the federal government has not been doing enough to keep the wrong people out Philips and Susan Martin stressed that The federal government immediately made some immigration changes in response to the terrorist attack, such as holding foreigners who violate immigration laws 48 hours without charge, up from 24 hours.
But the Bush administration is seeking more immigration changes, and the new Homeland Security Council, with 100 staff members comparable in size to the National Security Council staff, is likely to suggest even more as the 46 federal agencies whose work it coordinates to fight terrorism review the processes of issuing visas to foreigners, controlling their entry into the US, and ensuring that they abide by the terms of their visas inside the US. Immigration policy reforms can not prevent terrorism, but they are a key part of any effort to combat terrorism.
Immigration policies aim to facilitate the entry of wanted foreigners, and to identify and deter the entry of terrorists and other unwanted foreigners. This paper outlines the immigration reforms that could help prevent the entry of future terrorists. It would be unfair and self-destructive to blame Americas immigration policy for what happened on September 11. Immigrants come to live and work and build a better life for themselves and their families. The terrorists did not come here as immigrants.
They entered the country on temporary non-immigrant tourist and student visas. They didnt apply to the INS for green cards or any other kind of permanent status. Immigrants are only a small subset of the much larger pool of 30 million foreign nationals who enter the United States in a typical year. More than 95 percent enter as tourists or business travelers. Only 3 percent, or about one million, enter to immigrate, that is, to settle here permanently. We could reduce immigration to zero and it would do nothing for our national security. (Griswold, 2002)